New Bill must speed up child support cases

The Government proposes to replaces the failed Child Support Agency

Jo Swinson has called for new powers to speed up resolution of child support cases.

The House of Commons debated the Child Maintenance Bill today, which makes provision for a new body, the Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission (CMEC), to replace the floundering Child Support Agency.

Jo asked Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Peter Hain to introduce measures to bypass child support tribunals. Speaking in the House of Commons, she said:

“Can measures be included in the Bill to enable specialist teams of advisers and arbitrators at the new CMEC to scrutinise variations or exceptions cases at that early stage, in order to avoid sending everything to a tribunal, which causes delays in getting vital maintenance money to children and also costs the taxpayer?”

Responding, the Secretary of State said:

“I believe that the assessments are for 12 months and we are studying the hon. Lady’s points. I know that her frustrations are shared by others, particularly in respect of individuals who in some cases are self-employed and able somehow to camouflage their true income and deny the rightful amounts to parents with care and the children who depend on them.”

Commenting later, Jo said:

“There is clear evidence that some non-resident parents are using the appeals process as a bureaucratic delaying tactic to stall the process of settling child support claims. One of my constituents in East Dunbartonshire has gone through six tribunals, facing delay after delay to the settlement of her case.

“The needs of children must be given priority in child maintenance cases. The Government’s proposals should allow specialist teams to intervene in cases so that support payments reach children swiftly and directly. The new agency must learn the lessons of the failed CSA.”

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